The monks of Tibet are a mystical lot, known for amazing abilities like the art of Tummo, or inner fire. Unfortunately, monking doesn’t really pay the bills. What’s a poor monk to do? Drying clothes seems pretty dignified!
Tummo is one of many methods practiced within the greater framework of Buddhism to aid the practitioner in recognizing the ultimate nature of reality. Originally intended as a means of working with the energy channels supposedly present in every human body, practicing Tummo has several noticeable effects on physiology. Most well known among them, is the ability to regulate body temperature, a fact that has been scientifically corroborated by one Dr. Herbert Benson. Benson’s research has found that monks engaging in this particular activity are capable of raising the temperature of their body by around 15 degrees Fahrenheit at will (though he mentions this is skin temperature and this may only be documented at the extremities, I’m unclear on this bit). That’s pretty significant. As well as being able to moderate and change body temperature, the monks have been shown to use oxygen more efficiently while meditating, supposedly become sick less often, heal faster, and generally enjoy a healthier psychological state.
They’re like a bunch of religious Wolverines from the X-men! If only they weren’t staunch pacifists…
The ability to dry wet sheets in 40 degree temperatures (Fahrenheit) has been documented, as well, a feat that could very well kill someone not actively engaged in these practices.
There is an interesting documentary about Benson’s studies on meditation and Tummo in particular and he has been interviewed for another documentary on a Tibetan Buddhist monk who somehow mummified himself as he was dying. There’s a short clip with Dr. Benson from the latter program that you can watch here on youtube.
The most intriguing bit is that all of these effects aren’t even the primary goals of Tummo, but are supposedly side effects of a more enlightened outlook.
While regulating your internal temperature and having a better outlook may be enough for most people, here are some other cool things you can do if you ever master the mystical art of Tummo:
1. Cook cup ramen without a stove – just fill the cup with water, hold it in your hands and boil that stuff!
2. Make delicious frozen lemonade in seconds! – just lower your body temperature and enjoy!
3. Human refrigerator – do I need to say more here?
4. Avoid costly heating bills.
5. Hide in the freezer and discover who has been secretly eating your ice cream.
6. Get a tan during the winter – just set your lawn chair up on a snow bank for several hours!
7. Irritate your friends by always being comfortable no matter the temperature.
Now you have a great list of activities should you ever travel to Tibet, spend years and years in a monastery mastering this arcane skill set, and return home to modern conveniences like lemonade and cup ramen.
Happle Tea: preparing you for life since 2009.
You’re welcome, world.